Union gag row

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WIGAN rail workers are staging a demonstration about the effects of privatisation.

They will leave the platforms to take up position on the concourse above Wallgate station at breakfast time tomorrow (Tuesday) to warn commuters of their fears that the public are being priced out of depending on trains for public transport.

But the Wigan RMT union lay branch officers will be leaving it to full time officials to make their case...after insisting that they have been “gagged” from speaking out about their concerns by train operating company Northern who operate the station and suburban train services.

Maritime and Transport North West Regional Organiser John Tilley - a former Wigan signaller - said that their Action for Rail campaign sees the coming together of rail passenger groups and the rail unions in a “strategic alliance” of opposition to the Governments plans for the future development of rail.

He said: “Passengers are suffering from astronomical fares already, without being fleeced even more in the pursuit of profit.

“The Government’s Sir Roy NcNulty report sets the agenda for the private railway operators such as Northern Rail, to increase their already fat profits by slashing jobs and rail services, and then having the brass neck to charge the long suffering passengers even higher fares, for the privilege of being herded like cattle onto their near 30 year old rust bucket trains.

“Quite frankly tax payers, fare payers and rail workers alike, would be forgiven for thinking the region’s train services were being run by The Mob. We will resist every single plan by Northern to close station booking offices.

“We will resist the proposals to wipe out the catering on Wigan to London services, and we will defend jobs and services up to and including industrial action if necessary.

“It’s time to stand up to these private rail companies that have grown fat on rail privatisation. .”

Mr Tilley said that RMT members taking part in the protest are calling on the Wigan travelling public to sign up to supporting the action for rail campaign.

This would not just be in opposition to the government’s command paper, but to positively support re-nationalisation of rail.

He said: “There is an obvious need for a publicly owned and accountable rail industry run for the needs of the travelling public, businesses and the environment in the North West.”

Mr Tilley alleged that an existing gagging of rail staff had taken a “sinister turn” with Northern Rail issuing an alleged memo to Wigan station staff instructing them top report Northern staff taking part in the leafletting to the British Transport Police.

A spokesman for Northern Rail said: “As this date is not an official day of industrial action, we believe it is unsuitable for employees to distribute leaflets that have not been approved by Northern Rail while on duty, in uniform and at our stations or, indeed, on board any of our trains.”